The present invention relates to a belt for drawing a garment tighter around a person's body, comprising an elongated band that can be passed around the body and fixation means for fixing the belt in a tightened position, said fixation means comprising a series of teeth extending along a certain length on a first side of the elongated band and an engagement element provided near a first end of the elongated band, which engages one of said teeth in the tightened position for fixing the same with respect to said first end.
Such a belt is generally known, it is marketed under the name "Macaroni" and carrying the text "PAT 141878". An advantage of said belt in comparison with the belt that is generally used, which comprises a buckle that can passed through a hole in the belt, is that the elongated band does not exhibit any holes on the side remote from the wearer, i.e. the side that is exposed to view. Another advantage is that the teeth can be spaced much closer together than the usual holes, so that a more precise tightening of the belt is possible. The engagement element is provided with a pivotable pin, which extends in the longitudinal direction of the user in the position of use along the height of a pivotable guide member. The pivotable pin is biassed by means of a spring, so that the engagement element is forced towards the position in which it engages the teeth. The pivotable pin is provided with a lever, by means of which the wearer can move the pivotable pin against the action of the spring. The engagement member is moved out of engagement with the teeth by pivoting the engagement element in this manner. Because of the required number of elements, the (buckle of the) belt makes up a relatively complex assembly. In addition, the belt is relatively thick at the location of the fixation means, because the belt must be passed between the guide means on the one hand and the pin with the engagement element on the other hand.
Accordingly, the object of the present invention is to provide a belt that eliminates or at least partially alleviates the above drawbacks. According to the present invention, this object is accomplished by providing a belt as referred to in the introduction, in which the engagement element is substantially rigid in relation to the first end of the belt. Since the engagement element is rigidly connected to the first end, the belt can be of less complex design. An additional advantage is that this makes the belt easier and more inexpensive to manufacture. Moreover, because of the small number of parts the belt can be made thinner than the known belt, at least at the location of the connecting means. Finally, the pivoting pin comprising the lever is no longer required for releasing the belt from the tightened position.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the engagement element is provided on a guide member for guiding the elongated band, which guide member can be attached to the first end of the elongated band by means of a connecting element. The guide member of the belt is made of a harder material than the band of the belt which, after all, must be flexible. The provision of the engagement element on the guide member makes it possible to form the engagement element of the same material as the guide member, generally a metal, so that it can be ensured that the teeth are firmly engaged. The guide member can be permanently or detachably connected to the first end of the band by means of the connecting element. In the first case, the construction will be more solid. In the second case it is possible to change the size of the belt by disconnecting the connecting element, possibly cutting off a length of the band near the first end thereof, and subsequently connecting the connecting element to the shortened band. This is what frequently happens with belts.
Preferably, the engagement element is provided on the connecting element. After all, the connecting element is connected to the first end of the band in use, and thus the intended rigidity of the engagement element in relation to the first end of the elongated band can be realised in a simple manner.
In a preferred embodiment, the guide member comprises a guide element that is pivotally connected to the connecting element. The connecting element comprising the engagement element is preferably connected to the first end of the belt as rigidly as possible, whilst the other end as well as a portion of the elongated band must be passed through the guide means when the user puts on the belt. It will be understood that the belt may be easier to apply because the guide element is pivotable.
Preferably, the connecting element and the guide element are furthermore oriented in such a manner that the engagement of the engagement element on the teeth can be released by pivoting the guide element with respect to the connecting element. Since the guide element is pivotally connected to the connecting element, the guide element can be used as a lever, as it were, for releasing the engagement on the teeth. In the tightened position, the guide element extends substantially parallel to the two parts of the elongated band that are kept together by the fixation means. In this position the engagement element optimally engages one of the teeth of the elongated band. To undo the belt, the second end of the band positioned opposite the first end must be moved away from the band, i.e. the parallel relationship between the two parts of the band must be discontinued. As a result of the lever action of the guide element, which attempts to maintain the parallel relationship between the two parts of the band, a certain force must be exerted in order to release the engagement. In this way the engagement of the engagement element on the teeth is prevented from being unintentionally released.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first side of the elongated band is oriented towards the user's body in the tightened position. In this orientation, the teeth are positioned on the side of the belt that faces towards the wearer, in which the teeth are visible from the outside. Another advantage is the fact that the engagement of the engagement element on the teeth can readily be released by moving the free end of the band, i.e. the end positioned opposite the first end, which is present at the outer side of the band that extends around the user, away from the user. The band will pull the engagement element along in a direction out of engagement with the teeth. Following that, the elongated band can be pulled out of the guide element so as to further undo the belt.
Preferably, the teeth are provided on a separate elongated element, which is attached to the first side of the elongated band. As is the case with the engagement element, the teeth can be more readily engaged when the teeth are made of a stiffer material than the elongated band which, on the contrary, must exhibit some degree of flexibility. The engagement of the engagement element on the teeth is improved by using teeth that are made of a different, in this case a harder, material, whilst the life span of the belt is extended, because the properties of said elongated element can readily be geared to the requirements that are made thereof.
The invention further relates to a buckle for a belt as discussed above, which buckle comprises an engagement element which, during use of the belt, is rigid in relation to the first end of the belt.
The invention will be explained in more detail hereinafter by means of a description of embodiments of the invention, in which reference is made to the following schematic figures.
FIGS. 1a and 1b show a trouser belt according to the present invention; and
FIGS. 2a and 2b schematically show the way a trouser belt according to the present invention functions.
FIG. 1a shows a belt 1 comprising an elongated band 2, which is provided with teeth 4 along part of its length, and a separate buckle 3 that functions as a guide element. As shown in FIG. 1b, the buckle 3 can be connected to the elongated band by means of a connecting element 5. Said connecting takes place by first moving a clamping element 5a of the connecting element 5 to the position that is shown in FIG. 1a and subsequently passing the elongated band through an opening 11 in the connecting element 5. Then the clamping element is pivoted inwardly, causing the teeth 10 to engage the enclosed elongated band and clamp it down in the connecting element. In said inwardly pivoted position, the clamping element 5a pushes the engagement element 6 towards the outside (the situation depicted in FIG. 1b) and maintains it in a rigid position relative to the connecting element 5 and the clamped-down part of the elongated band 2. In use, the free end 2a of the elongated band 2 of the belt 1 may first be passed through loops (not shown) of a garment to be tightened, after which it is passed through the guide opening 7 of the buckle 3. Then it is inserted further into the buckle 3 up to an opening 8 between the connecting element 5 and the guide element 9. Subsequently, the free end 2a of the elongated band 2 is tightened further, causing the elongated band 2 to be pulled further and further towards the tightening position.
FIG. 2a schematically shows the tightened position of a belt 21 according to the invention. For the sake of clarity, the figure does not show a body around which the belt 21 is or can be passed. The elongated band 22 has been passed through the guide element 29 so far that the portion comprising the teeth is positioned near a the projecting part 26 of the connecting elements 25. Each time the free end 22a is pulled further in the direction indicated by the arrow A, the projecting part 26 engages a next tooth 24 in the elongated band 22. Once the belt 21 is sufficiently tight, the free end 22a is released and the projecting part 26 engages the tooth 24a in question in such a manner that the belt 21 cannot return to a looser position.
FIG. 2b indicates the manner in which the belt 21 according to the invention can be undone. The free end 22a of the elongated band 22 is to that end moved away from the body (not shown) in the direction indicated by the arrow B. This movement causes the engagement between the teeth 24a and the projecting part 26 to be released and the elongated band 22 can be moved in the direction indicated by the arrow C until the free end 22a has completely moved out of the guide element 29. It will be understood that the projecting part 26 will not engage the portion of the elongated band 22 between the free end 22a and the teeth 24.
It will be apparent upon studying the schematic drawings 2a and 2b that for the sake of easy reference the various dimensions are not shown in the correct proportions. Although the buckle 23 as shown is relatively long and thick, it is on the contrary possible in practice to make this part relatively small, so that the portion of the belt that is positioned near the buckle 23 in the tightened position can be made relatively thin. Furthermore it should be noted that the embodiments as described and illustrated herein show only one manner of implementing the invention. In practice many modifications are possible without departing from the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims.